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Shigeru Yoshida

Updated on January 25, 2013

Shigeru Yoshida was a Japanese statesman born in Tokyo, Japan, September 22, 1878. He was the son of Tsuna Takeuchi, but he was adopted by Kenzo Yoshida and married the daughter of the statesman Count Nobuaki Makino.

After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1906, Yoshida promptly entered the foreign service. During the period when Japan was establishing hegemony in Manchuria, he held the key positions of consul general in Tientsin (1922—1925) and Mukden (1925-1928) and vice foreign minister (1928-1930) in the cabinet of Gi ichi Tanaka and his successor. His last official position before World War II was ambassador to Britain (1936-1939).

Despite his close ties with the bureaucracy, the zaibatsu (financial cliques), and court circles, Yoshida was imprisoned(June-August 1945) for activities against the former prime minister, Hideki Tojo, in favor of peace.

After Japan's surrender, he was appointed foreign minister in the cabinets of Naruhiko Higashikuni (1945) and Kijuro Shidehara (1946). When Ichiro Hatoyama was purged from politics by the American occupation authorities, Yoshida became leader of the Liberal Party and formed his first cabinet in 1946. From 1948 to 1954 he served continuously as prime minister, a record in Japanese history. With the support of the occupation authorities he exercised near-dictatorial powers to adopt the new Constitution (1947), to effect land reform, to sign the peace treaty at San Francisco (September 8, 1951), and to negotiate the first mutual security pact with the United States. Yet he was the first prime minister in Japan's history to be censured by the Diet (March 2, 1953).

He retired in 1954 but continued to be a political force behind the scenes.

Shigeru Yoshida died in Toyko on 20 October 1967 aged 89.

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